CDC Needs To Reduce Distancing Requirements In Schools

A recent Jamestown Public Schools survey of how parents want their children to attend school for the rest of the school year will be for naught if the state Health Department doesn’t adopt CDC guidance reducing social distancing requirements in schools from 6 feet to 3 feet.

Pennsylvania’s Health Department adopted the CDC guidance last week, while New York’s Health Department has yet to act.

Last week, parents received a survey from the district asking if parents preferred hybrid instruction, full-time in-person learning or remote learning along with other questions that will influence what the district does for the rest of the school year — if the state Health Department adopts the CDC social distancing guidance.

The longer the state waits, the more the option to return more children to full-time learning is taken away from Jamestown Public Schools officials and district parents. School resumes on April 12, which leaves roughly 10 weeks in the 2021-22 school year. A decision on in-person instruction would need to be made quickly thereafter, or it may not make much sense to make any changes for the rest of this school. District officials not only have to have a plan for how school buildings will function but have to take into account too the needs of parents who have spent the past several months making extra trips to and from school, which means making accommodations with their jobs and with those who help them with child care and transportation. Those arrangements often can’t change without some notice.

Having more children in school for longer periods of time is better for many students academically. But every minute the state dilly dallies over social distancing in schools, the greater likelihood that the Jamestown children who need in-person instruction the most will continue with hybrid learning.

New York either needs to change its social distancing rules for schools to match the CDC guidelines or tell schools that there will be no change for this year so districts aren’t wasting their time planning for a full-time return to school that may never come.


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